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- Plant Physiology
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- National Science Foundation
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Abstract The Solanaceae or “nightshade” family is an economically important group with remarkable diversity. To gain a better understanding of how the unique biology of the Solanaceae relates to the family’s small RNA (sRNA) genomic landscape, we downloaded over 255 publicly available sRNA data sets that comprise over 2.6 billion reads of sequence data. We applied a suite of computational tools to predict and annotate two major sRNA classes: (1) microRNAs (miRNAs), typically 20- to 22-nucleotide (nt) RNAs generated from a hairpin precursor and functioning in gene silencing and (2) short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), including 24-nt heterochromatic siRNAs typically functioning to repress repetitive regions of the genome via RNA-directed DNA methylation, as well as secondary phased siRNAs and trans-acting siRNAs generated via miRNA-directed cleavage of a polymerase II-derived RNA precursor. Our analyses described thousands of sRNA loci, including poorly understood clusters of 22-nt siRNAs that accumulate during viral infection. The birth, death, expansion, and contraction of these sRNA loci are dynamic evolutionary processes that characterize the Solanaceae family. These analyses indicate that individuals within the same genus share similar sRNA landscapes, whereas comparisons between distinct genera within the Solanaceae reveal relatively few commonalities.
Pre-meiotic 21-nucleotide reproductive phasiRNAs emerged in seed plants and diversified in flowering plants
Plant small RNAs are important regulatory elements that fine-tune gene expression and maintain genome integrity by silencing transposons. Reproductive organs of monocots produce abundant phased, small interfering RNAs (phasiRNAs). The 21-nt reproductive phasiRNAs triggered by miR2118 are highly enriched in pre-meiotic anthers, and have been found in multiple eudicot species, in contrast with prior reports of monocot specificity. The 24-nt reproductive phasiRNAs are triggered by miR2275, and are highly enriched during meiosis in many angiosperms. Here, we report the widespread presence of the 21-nt reproductive phasiRNA pathway in eudicots including canonical and non-canonical microRNA (miRNA) triggers of this pathway. In eudicots, these 21-nt phasiRNAs are enriched in pre-meiotic stages, a spatiotemporal distribution consistent with that of monocots and suggesting a role in anther development. Although this pathway is apparently absent in well-studied eudicot families including the Brassicaceae, Solanaceae and Fabaceae, our work in eudicots supports an earlier singular finding in spruce, a gymnosperm, indicating that the pathway of 21-nt reproductive phasiRNAs emerged in seed plants and was lost in some lineages.
Small RNAs play important roles during plant development by regulating transcript levels of target mRNAs, maintaining genome integrity, and reinforcing DNA methylation.
Dicer-like 5( Dcl5) is proposed to be responsible for precise slicing in many monocots to generate diverse 24-nt phased, secondary small interfering RNAs (phasiRNAs), which are exceptionally abundant in meiotic anthers of diverse flowering plants. The importance and functions of these phasiRNAs remain unclear. Here, we characterized several mutants of dcl5, including alleles generated by the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)– Cas9system and a transposon-disrupted allele. We report that dcl5mutants have few or no 24-nt phasiRNAs, develop short anthers with defective tapetal cells, and exhibit temperature-sensitive male fertility. We propose that DCL5 and 24-nt phasiRNAs are critical for fertility under growth regimes for optimal yield.
Twenty-four-nucleotide (nt) small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) maintain asymmetric DNA methylation at thousands of euchromatic transposable elements in plant genomes in a process called RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM). RdDM is dispensable for growth and development in Arabidopsis thaliana, but is required for reproduction in other plants, such as Brassica rapa. The 24-nt siRNAs are abundant in maternal reproductive tissue, due largely to overwhelming expression from a few loci in the ovule and developing seed coat, termed siren loci. A recent study showed that 24-nt siRNAs produced in the anther tapetal tissue can methylate male meiocyte genes in trans. Here we show that in B. rapa, a similar process takes place in female tissue. siRNAs are produced from gene fragments embedded in some siren loci, and these siRNAs can trigger methylation in trans at related protein-coding genes. This trans-methylation is associated with silencing of some target genes and may be responsible for seed abortion in RdDM mutants. Furthermore, we demonstrate that a consensus sequence in at least two families of DNA transposons is associated with abundant siren expression, most likely through recruitment of CLASSY3, a putative chromatin remodeler. This research describes a mechanism whereby RdDM influences gene expression and sheds lightmore »
In this work, we sequenced and annotated the genome of Streptochaeta angustifolia , one of two genera in the grass subfamily Anomochlooideae, a lineage sister to all other grasses. The final assembly size is over 99% of the estimated genome size. We find good collinearity with the rice genome and have captured most of the gene space. Streptochaeta is similar to other grasses in the structure of its fruit (a caryopsis or grain) but has peculiar flowers and inflorescences that are distinct from those in the outgroups and in other grasses. To provide tools for investigations of floral structure, we analyzed two large families of transcription factors, AP2-like and R2R3 MYBs, that are known to control floral and spikelet development in rice and maize among other grasses. Many of these are also regulated by small RNAs. Structure of the gene trees showed that the well documented whole genome duplication at the origin of the grasses (ρ) occurred before the divergence of the Anomochlooideae lineage from the lineage leading to the rest of the grasses (the spikelet clade) and thus that the common ancestor of all grasses probably had two copies of the developmental genes. However, Streptochaeta (and by inference othermore »